Your home and auto insurance renews on a yearly basis. How does your agent handle the renewal process with you? Perhaps they send a letter or call you asking to review your current limits. The renewal is the perfect time to look at your policy to be sure you are insured properly, and to make sure nothing has changed over the past year. Maybe your carrier experienced a rate increase. It could be the right time to see if you can save money or even take advantage of a better program. If you decide to go out “shopping” on your own here are some tips for you.
- Know the Difference Between a Direct Writer and an Independent Agent
Direct writers like GEICO only have one company to place your business with, so if you are unhappy with their service or price then you must take your insurance somewhere else. Insurance is not a one size fits all product. An Independent agent represents several different insurance carriers and can tailor an insurance plan to suit your individual needs.
- Research the Insurance Company
The internet can be a wealth of information. Look for online reviews of carriers to see who has a lot of positive customer reviews. You also want to be sure that the company is financially sound. Check the A.M. Best rating of the carriers to see if they have an “A” rating or not. If you have concerns talk with an agent, they deal with their carriers on a daily basis and have first hand knowledge of the way they handle claims, process changes and handle billing discrepancies.
- Know What You are Buying
There is nothing worse than calling to file a claim and finding out you are not covered. Ask questions when you are purchasing your coverage to make sure you understand what you are getting. Finding an agent you can trust and feel comfortable with is integral in your buying process. Often time the agent will act as your liaison to the insurance company, at claim time or even when problems arise with coverage or billing issues.
- Don’t Make a Decision Based Solely on Premium
There is always going to be someone claiming he or she can save you money. Making a decision based only on cost can be dangerous. Often times less premium means less coverage. Look closely at the policy limits, and pay attention to deductibles and exclusions. Many coverages are not necessarily listed out on an insurance policy, but are instead grouped together in what the industry calls “bells and whistles” endorsements. Eliminating one of these could mean you have eliminated several extremely important coverages. You don’t want to “save money” when buying the policy only to find a loss is not covered, thus becoming more expensive in the long run.
Don’t settle for any agent or policy that is not right for you. Seek an agency you can make a long lasting personal connection with to help guide you through the insurance buying process.